It's hard to think of a more intense second game of the season. The outcome was easier to imagine.
Unsatisfactory outings by Danny Duffy and Jose Quintana turned the game into an extended bullpen showdown, and, as you might expect, the White Sox bullpen blinked first. Lorenzo Cain teed off on a fat Zach Putnam two-seamer for a two-run homer in the eighth inning as the Royals continue to live happy and productive lives underneath the White Sox' collective skin.
It's notable that Cain hit the blast. Not only was he plunked because Jeff Samardzija threw a tantrum in the first game, but Quintana plunked him in the first inning tonight. So he got his revenge, although the entire evening was a testament to the fact that hitting guys or trying to, whether intentional or not, is usually a pretty dumb idea.
Duffy woke up the Sox in the second inning when he threw behind Adam LaRoche with two outs and nobody on. That would have been fair -- the inning after, and on the first pitch -- but Duffy made the mistake of throwing at LaRoche's head. Both benches were warned, and after LaRoche stared down Duffy from the batter's box, he smacked a double over the head of Alex Rios in right for a double. Gordon Beckham kept the inning alive with a single, and Tyler Flowers then turned on a hanging changeup and let it ride the Kansas City wind out to left field to give the Sox a 3-1 lead.
That lead evaporated in the bottom of the third when, with one out, Quintana plunked Mike Moustakas with a fastball on the thigh. It was a 1-2 count, so it wasn't intentional, but the Royals treated it like one. Cain singled, and Eric Hosmer crushed a fastball out to right to give the Royals another one-run lead.
The Sox and Royals alternated scoring frames, and so the Royals won by scoring last. Beckham came through with an RBI single to right-center to cash in Avisail Garcia, who led off the fourth with a double. Salvador Perez answered in the fifth by muscling a single to center after hurting himself with a couple foul balls, after which the Sox tied it up again with an Alexei Ramirez sac fly.
But after the Hosmer blast, it felt like the Sox were clinging to the ledge, trying to hang in this game. Maybe it's because the Sox couldn't get a runner into scoring position against Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland no matter how hard they tried (Adam Eaton was thrown out trying to steal second), while Javy Guerra and Zach Duke had to work out of their own jams.
Maybe it's because Robin Ventura made yet another weird tactical move against KC, pinch-running for Carlos Sanchez with Micah Johnson -- at first base with one out in the seventh -- only to see him get forced out at second on Eaton's grounder. Or maybe it's because the White Sox now are 28-48 against the Royals since 2011, so they're going to have to earn the benefit of the doubt.
*Quintana was lucky to come out of the game with a no-decision, giving up five runs on nine hits and a walk and two plunked batters over five innings. He's still 0-6 against the Royals lifetime, and his ERa rose to 4.66
*Weird defensive night for the Sox. Jose Abreu made a catch over the rail, made a barehanded stab-and-throw to cut down Perez at the plate, then started a 3-6-3. Garcia made a nice running catch on Omar Infante's slicing liner. Then you had Beckham dropping a pop-up that Ramirez should have taken charge of, and the Royals taking two bases on Flowers via the delayed steal.
*Garcia looked great at the plate, too, going 3-for-4 with three line drives.
*In what looks like the start of a platoon at third base, Beckham held up his end of the bargain with two singles, both with runners in scoring position, even if one of them was a dribbler.
*Sanchez went 2-for-3 in his first start of the season, but was thrown out at second trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt.
*Eaton probably brought up the rear, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout, a caught stealing, and he couldn't run down Moustakas' slicing double in the first inning, leading to a run.